George Carlin had his famous “seven dirty words,” but in menswear we really have just one: pleats. At a time when even sweatpants have become stylish, nothing says, “I’ve given up” quite like a pair of pleated pants. They’re the uniform for the uninformed, pants for men who dress literally and figuratively in the dark.
During the “great menswear enlightenment” of the mid-aughts, pleats came to represent all that was wrong with the average male wardrobe. Flat fronted pants weren’t just a more streamlined option, they were the only option for those that were in the know. Men that wore pleats didn’t realize, or worse didn’t care, that that their bloated trousers looked terrible. The general assumption became that if you wore pleated pants, you just didn’t get it. And no man ever wants to be accused of that.